Learn about fabulously fragrant purple lilac blooms and how to make a lilac bouquet. Your backyard lilac bushes only bloom once a year, why not enjoy them to the fullest with a lilac flower arrangement?

They are fragrant flowers that bloom in mid spring and create the most gorgeous spring flower arrangements.

White background with a hand tied purple lilac bouquet.
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Originally published April 9, 2014 and updated March 10, 2021.

There’s no sweeter way to start my day than snipping a few beautiful blooms from our garden. On a crisp spring morning, I love to go on a backyard hunt for a simple flower arrangement for our home or a bouquet to gift. 

I can hardly resist filling every room with the sweet scent of lilacs, and I can’t help but think it will bring joy to others as well. We have several bountiful lilac bushes to select from in an array of deep pinks and soft purples. 

This popular, romantic bloom tends to shine in mid-late April here in the Midwest.

I love using lilac oil in my favorite handmade gift ideas, too! Check out my lilac bath milk and lilac sugar scrub!

The tutorial included in this post is for a traditional hand-tied arrangement, which is a popular style of European floral design. I love that this loose, garden-inspired look can be added to a gift basket or laid across steps on a front porch for May Day.

There are so many fun ways to use this style of bouquet! 

However, I really think lilacs are some of my very favorites! I am so sentimental for the scent of lilacs because they bring back childhood memories of my grandparents’ farm.

Their blooming season is brief, but that makes it even more special. Let’s learn a little more about lilacs! 

What is a Lilac?

The common purple lilac is an old-fashioned deciduous bush that you will often find alongside old farmhouses because it’s so long-lived. This popular lilac is best known for its extremely fragrant blooms. 

Common lilac bushes are extremely hardy, fast growing, and need very little care. Because they have been grown in the midwest for so long, they carry a lot of sentimental memories for people! 

They bloom each spring with regularity – depending on your zone, they will bloom anywhere from April to May. They have a lovely dark green foliage and require full sun.

While the paler pinky-lavender tones are the most common purple lilacs, they come in whites, yellows, magentas and more.

A woman cutting fresh lilac stems from a common purple lilac bush.

Why You’ll Love a Lilac Flower Arrangement

  • A fleeting, special season of just a few weeks in spring
  • So fragrant
  • Gorgeous colors that speak of spring

How to Make a Lilac Bouquet

  1. Select blooms. I often work from the back so I leave plenty of eye candy. I cut 1.5-2 times more than I think I will need so that I can choose from the best. The others can always be added to bud vases.
  2. Trim back any dead stems and foliage.
  3. As with any floral arrangement, remove foliage that may fall below the vase or in this case, the ribbon.
  4. Give your arrangement varied height, making it slightly taller in the middle, working down lower. Cut each stem individually at an angle.
  5. Tie with a ribbon and gift the lilac bouquet alone or in a beautiful gift basket with my homemade lilac milk bath.

How to Make Cut Lilacs Last

Lilacs have a woody stem and can sometimes struggle to get enough water to the bloom once they are cut from the bush. They can wilt in an hour or last for days. These tips will make cut lilacs last longer.

  1. Cut directly from lilac shrubs in early morning, before any heat gets to them.
  2. Slice vertically at the end of the stems. Do not cut across like most blooms. Vertical cuts allow lilac’s woody stems to take in more water.
  3. Store lilacs in a cool, dark place for a couple hours to soak up as much water as possible before arranging. A refrigerator or cool basement work well.
A woman holding a hand held bouquet of fresh cut common purple lilac blooms.

Common Lilac Questions

What does lilac symbolize?

Because lilacs are very early springtime bloomers, they are thought to symbolize renewal. Purple lilacs symbolize the first emotions of love, and white lilacs should bring youthful innocence to mind.

Are lilacs expensive?

Because their season is so brief and they don’t have the longest vase life, lilacs can be quite expensive. However, in the Midwest they are a bountiful bloomer and precious backyard blooms are free!

Can you order fresh lilacs?

Yes! However, the season is fleeting. Check with your local florist or look for wholesale online services that sell lilacs for weddings, etc.

Does Lilac make a good cut flower?

Yes! Lilacs make an excellent cut flower. They are full of springtime fragrance and color, and while they may not last as long as other spring time blooms in a vase, they are a treasure for any amount of time!

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  1. These lilac bouquets are so gorgeous. What part of the country do you live in where you get to grow these beautiful flowers?

  2. This is so gorgeous. Nothing beats a natural grown bouquet. The color looks so fresh. Thank you Ms. Julie Blanner.